Earlier this month, 25-year-old Esma Voloder was crowned Miss World Australia. Nine times out of ten, the Ummahsonic team would not inform you guys about the happenings at Miss World Australia. Nope. Not gonna happen. But thanks to Esma’s incredible life story, we are making an exception.
Esma’s family moved to Australia from Bosnia when she was five months old. They had been living in a refugee camp after fleeing the conflict that took place in the country in the early nineties.
Like so many of the people displaced by the Bosnian conflict, Esma’s family are Muslim. After escaping the war, they eventually settled in Melbourne, where Esma pursued modelling as a teenager.
In 2008, she was crowned Miss Teen Australia. However, she always prioritised education, and she eventually earned a degree in psychology. She now works as a criminal profiler in Melbourne, which means she identifies likely suspects in ongoing investigations. That’s right, when Esma is not winning pageants she’s helping to lock up criminals.
After winning Miss World Australia, there were a number of online trolls who condemned their decision to award the crown to a Muslim.
This is a thank you ? To those who have extended their congratulations and support ☺️ My heart has been touched by the heartwarming support I have received from those that represent different walks of life in Australia since my journey and attainment of the @missworldaustralia 2017 title. As well as from those across the oceans ? your messages have been beautiful✨ I am very fortunate to call Australia my home and share it with wonderful and diverse people ?? ? Collectively we should uphold a duty to discourage segregation amongst humanity that unfairly stem from the beautiful things that make us unique, and celebrate what is good and makes us the same . We are bonded and noble by our interest in good conduct and united under the responsibility of bettering ourselves and the circumstances that surround ourselves and others. I cannot wait to represent us at the international pageant in China ?? thank you again and again for enabling me to facilitate my dreams and endeavours in helping those in need. There are so many people that are in need of help – varying in degrees of urgency, and there should be no underestimation of what our hearts, minds and actions can achieve. Thank you Julia Morley and the @missworld organisation for giving us a platform that unites countries and our borders under Beauty With A Purpose ? I cannot wait to meet the contestants from around the world and share our stories, passions, character and cultures. Although I cannot respond to every message … know that my deep and heartfelt love and gratitude reaches you all ?? Everyone ! ❤☺️??#beautywithapurpose #gratitude #missworldaustralia2017 #humanity #love #loveaustralia
Esma reacted to the bigotry with grace and humility. Responding to the critics, Esma said: ‘I forgive them…I feel it comes from a lack of understanding,’ before adding, ‘I am hoping to break down the barriers by just being me.’
She also said that she believes people ‘fall into a trap of believing what they are told.’ As such, she wants to put an end to the misconceptions surrounding Islam. After winning the Miss World Australia Crown, Esma spoke about her relationship with her faith:
‘The Islam that I know, that is in the Qu’ran, I don’t associate that with any acts that are occurring around the world…I believe Islam is about peace, unity, prosperity and inclusion.’
We’re glad to see Esma rising above the critics and serving as a true ambassador for Australia. Her incredible upbringing, as well as her commitment to understanding and her outrageously cool-sounding job, make us feel like we can run through walls. Serious.
Featured image credit: Miss World Australia via Facebook.